I was diagnosed with Coeliac’s Disease when I was 5 years old. It was quite a shock to my family but I didn’t understand it at the time. My little sister was very ill and had just been diagnosed with Coeliac’s Disease. I was tested as a precaution. I sometimes felt tired walking to and from school and occasionally got a sore tummy but that was it. Now I had to start eating without gluten. I didn’t even know what that meant.
When I started eating a gluten free diet I didn’t get sore tummies and had more energy to walk. I felt wonderful and then that changed. I started to feel the odd one out. I would look in cake shop windows and long to eat the delicious cakes but they were gluten. Why were gluten free cakes not as appealing? I felt really sad at parties. My mum tried really hard to get the same snacks as everyone else but when I took out my box of snacks everyone stared. I felt really embarrassed then all the questions started. The most common was ‘why have you brought your own food?’ and ‘what is gluten free?’ I felt like I was always explaining myself to everyone. I hated that part. I wished I was like everyone else.
Eating in restaurants and cafes became tricky as not everyone serves gluten free food, sometimes we would be walking for ages to find somewhere to eat and all they had to offer was pizza or pasta. I did eat healthily at home and love fish, chicken and vegetables but craved for the sweet stuff. Life was tough and I was told I had to always follow a strict gluten free diet so I didn’t get ill. A couple of times I accidently ate gluten and it was awful! I felt dizzy, my tummy started to ache and I was sick until all the contents of my tummy emptied. I was in so much pain. Then I felt very sleepy. I can’t think of anything worse than when I ate gluten. I never want that to happen again.
After a year or two I got used to being gluten free and being careful. The questions had died down and I met other friends that were Coeliacs, that really helped. I felt we were going through the same thing together. My sister was only 3 years old when she was diagnosed and she coped brilliantly but she didn’t know any different. It was getting easier for me but then…something incredible happened! Cafes and restaurants started serving more gluten free food, more people knew about gluten free, how to help and took care handling them. Shops sold more gluten free food and they were tasty! Bread didn’t have big holes in it anymore and cakes were just as good as how I remembered gluten cakes to be. I was even invited to a gluten free party! There was a magic show and plenty of party food and it was all gluten free! Being Coeliac is not that bad. I know I will always have to be careful and make sure I eat a healthy diet. I don’t mind now as I am no longer the odd one out. Thousands of people are Coeliacs, just like me.